Florida is among the last states in the union that anyone would expect to vote to help the environment. Let’s face it, my home state of Florida is known for a talking mouse, white sandy beaches and hanging up presidential elections. We have not been known for voting in support of the environment — until Tuesday.
This past Election Day, Floridians had the opportunity to change that stigma and we did, voting a staggering 75 percent in favor of the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, aka Amendment One.
It’s a big deal for outdoor enthusiasts in Florida because in 2009 the legislature cut funding to purchase and protect recreation and conservation areas, marine habitats and water sources to help dig the state out of the financial turmoil. When Florida’s economy bounced back, funding to this conservation initiative was never restored, but voters have now put funding the environment back on the front burner.
What does this mean for Florida?
The Land Acquisition Trust Fund is going to, once again, receive funding (estimated at $648 million during Fiscal Year 2015-16, which could grow to $1.268 billion by 2035, when the amendment will expire) to buy or improve Florida’s natural areas such as conservation easements, fish and wildlife habitats, sea shores, streams, lakes, rivers, historic and geologic sites, and lands in the Everglades.
Natural areas of Florida are going to become more accessible to outdoors enthusiasts to enjoy the landscape and its inhabitants. Our pristine beaches are going to continue to attract beach goers for decades to come.
Hopefully by passing this amendment, Florida’s outdoor recreation areas will be well protected and even expand for tourists and Floridians alike.
Learn more about the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative today.
—Justin Fricke is a writer, weekend warrior, and all-around fun-haver based out of Winter Springs, Florida.